8 things you may have missed this week in Palestine
Irish media continues to frequently ignore important stories emerging from Palestine-Israel, stories that are vital to context setting and framing during those times when the issue actually does hit international headlines.
By ignoring such stories, which expose the true nature of Palestinian life under military occupation and apartheid, the media can only be considered to be complicit via their silence.
Therefore the IPSC continues with our new weekly round up of the most important stories that you may have missed if your only source of information is the Irish mainstream media.
#1. Israel pressures UN to remove it from a list of children’s rights abusers
According to the Guardian, a UN list that could place Israel alongside Islamic State, The Taliban and Boko Haram as committing the most grave violations of children’s rights may be altered to exclude the Jewish state over what UN insiders call a “caving into Israeli pressure to abandon” the move by their senior colleagues.
The report says UN officials backed down from including Israel following phone calls from Israeli officials. It’s understood June Kunugi, UNICEF’s special representative to Palestine and Israel, who received the calls, was warned of “serious consequences” if Israel was included. The report says that “the UN complained to Israel over the intimidation of its staff.”
Five hundred children were among the 2,200 Palestinians killed during last summer’s assault. Israel’s is the only state army recommended for the list.
Recommendations for inclusion come from UN bodies within the relevant countries who gather evidence in collaboration with human rights agencies on the ground in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1612, and according to The Guardian, the inclusion, “would propel Israel further towards pariah status within international bodies and could lead to UN sanctions.”
The Electronic Intifada reports that UN officials have insisted Israel may still be included on the list and the UN has complained to Israel of the treatment of its staff. However, there are fears the list could become politicised – with the Guardian report suggesting that if the formal procedures required by resolution 1612 were not followed, it’s possible a recommendation has already been sent to the UN HQ in New York – one that doesn’t recommend Israel’s inclusion.
That, according to the Electronic Intifada, would give UN chief Ban Ki Moon “political cover not to list Israel – despite the mountain of evidence – and then to claim that experts on the ground never recommended it in the first place”.
It’s understood Israeli officials have already been in touch with Ban’s office, indicating the high levels of anxiety in Israeli officialdom over the possible inclusion.
In a statement on behalf of Palestine’s Boycott National Committee Abdulrahman Abu Nahel said “Once again the UN has given in to Israel’s exceptionalism and provided it cover for war crimes.”
#2. Jerusalem tensions highest since Second Intifada
Tensions in Jerusalem have reached their highest point since the second intifada in 2005, according to a leaked EU report.
Reports in the Guardian and Ma’an News say the document blames the relentless pace of new settlement building as the prime cause of the tensions. However, disproportionate policing, house demolitions and evictions are also cited.
The report says the EU wants to see sanctions for the illegal settlement building and punitive measures against extremist settlers and settlement products. The Israeli government has stated it wants to “Judaise” Jerusalem, to secure permanent Jewish control of the city by limiting Palestinian residency and building rights – while building homes only for Jewish-Israeli residents.
The vast majority of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem are classified only as “residents” and lack citizenship rights. Their residency permits can be revoked if they move away from the city for more than a few years.
#3. Head of Gaza children’s charity prevented from attending Dublin conference on Palestine
Dr Mona El Farra, the projects director of the Middle East Children’s Alliance and deputy chair of the Red Crescent Society in Gaza has been prevented from leaving Gaza to attend a conference on Palestine organised by the SIPTU Global Solidarity Committee for Saturday 28th March in Liberty Hall, Dublin.
Dr El Farra is a noted and respected advocate for Palestinian rights but was denied a visa by the Israeli authorities on the grounds of ‘security reasons’ and thus was unable to exit Gaza either through the Erez or Rafah crossings.
While Israel maintains that it “pulled out” of Gaza, it enforces a hermetic siege on the Strip and routinely denies the Palestinians there permission to enter or leave. The siege, illegal under international law, is also enabled by the Egyptian regime with exiting through the Rafah crossing becoming increasingly difficult. Of course, Israel should have no say in the freedom of movement of Palestinians anywhere, freedom of movement is a right, not something to be granted or refused.
#4. Israel demanded a €23,000 bond from Irish noel laureate to attend women’s rights conference in occupied Ramallah
Irish Nobel Peace prize winner Mairead Maguire has been told she would have to pay 100,000 shekels (€23,000) if she wanted to attend a conference on women’s health in the West Bank, according to Haaretz.
Ms Maguire, 71, had requested permission to attend after being banned for entering Israel for 10 years following her deportation after taking part in a 2010 Turkish flotilla that attempted to break the siege of Gaza and bring humanitarian aid to its beleaguered population. She became aware of the ban when she travelled to attend with a delegation of female Nobel winners the following year – and was refused entry. The next month she asked for the ban to be lifted, but received no reply from the Israeli Interior Ministry.
This time around, Ms Maguire sought permission in advance, but received a response from the Ministry only on the day she was due to attend, a response which contained the demand for the 100,000 shekel bond – along with conditions which restricted the length of her stay and demanded that the conference be the sole purpose of her entry.
Given the onerous conditions attached to her visit, particularly the financial one, she cancelled her attendance. Her lawyer, Abeer Baker, said Ms Maguire’s trip was motivated solely by humanitarian concerns, that she supported non-violence and that the last-minute receipt of the response from the Interior Ministry was, according to Baker, due to technical procedures designed to obstruct her plans.
Ms Baker said “It is clear to us that behind the approval of our request was fear of more international damage if she were refused entry again, only because of her desire to fulfil her vision of non-belligerence”.
#5. Sixty percent of global drone exports come from Israel
New data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has revealed that Israel has supplied 60.7% of the world’s drones since 1985.
As the Electronic Intifada report on this data states: “As a result, Israel is the single greatest source of drone proliferation in the world.” Such data is especially pertinent in the light of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza last summer which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians. “Based on data collected by the Al Mezan Center for Human rights, a Corporate Watch investigation found that at least 37% of those killed, or 840 people, died in drone strikes alone.”
The people of Gaza are not only subjected to drone strikes by Israel, but are under constant drone surveillance, with the sounds a constant in the illegally besieged Strip, causing untold psychological trauma for the Palestinians there.
Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military technology firm, produces 85% of the drones used by the Israeli military. Academics for Palestine (AfP) has revealed that under EU-funded research programmes, Irish academics at Trinity College Dublin have worked with Elbit Systems and have called for a boycott of such collaborations.
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) is calling on the Irish government to place an immediate arms embargo upon the state of Israel. You can take action to ensure that neither Israel nor arms manufacturers in Ireland should be allowed to profit from the killing of Palestinians by signing the petition in the link here.
#6. Israeli occupation soldiers to teach and recruit at high schools
150 secondary schools in Israel are to be “twinned” with military companies as part of a programme designed to “attract the youth” to a part of the Israeli occupation forces that are deemed “less attractive” and struggling to attract recruits, i.e. the ground forces.
The programme will also involve visits by IDF soldiers to high school students, about to be enlisted, who will tell the students “events and stories from the summer” – a folksy reference to the 50-day onslaught last year which resulted in the deaths of more than 2,200 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians.
At the heart of the programme is a booklet which seeks “to increase the number of those requesting the armoured units, artillery, engineering and combat intelligence”.
In related news, Tel Aviv University has granted 850 scholarships to students who served in the military during last summer’s onslaught on the people of Gaza, while Israel’s Technion university is launching a new training programme for professionals to enter Israel’s growing “defense exports” industry. “People aren’t aware of just how much money can be made in this field”, said a programme lecturer, “Israeli high tech and Israeli security have good reputations – the combination is a winner”.
All of the above will only serve to further highlight the necessity and increase calls for an international academic boycott of Israel, which is called for Palestinians and Irish groups like the IPSC and Academics for Palestine.
#7. UN condemns impact of Israeli occupation on Palestinian women
The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women approved a resolution Friday 20th March marking Israel’s illegal occupation as contributing to the “grave situation of Palestinian women.”
Such a resolution will come as no surprise to anyone aware of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinian people which of course prevent the “advancement and self-reliance of Palestinian women.” As is usual when such resolutions are made, the official Israeli reaction is to accuse the UN of being biased against and singling out the apartheid state.
There was also condemnation of last summer’s murderous attack on Gaza which killed 283 women in the resolution which also urged the international community to “provide assistance needed by Palestinian women and their families who face a major humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of the war.”
#8. Palestinian students use sewage channels to reach school
While calls for an academic boycott of Israel grow, with a growing number of student unions and universities divesting from companies profiting from occupation, Israel continues to put obstacles in front of Palestinian education, indeed, conducting its own form of boycott.
Palestinian students near occupied Ramallah are: “are being forced to cross through sewage channels to reach a high school … after a settlement road cut off the only other means of access”. Some 200 students from the villages of al-Tira and Beit Ur al-Fuqa in the western Ramallah district how have to reach the school using a four kilometer route that runs along Israel’s apartheid wall, where armed settlers, as well as Israeli soldiers, regularly interrupt their commute – sometimes by firing tear gas at them. Ma’an news says that the “route passes through sewage channels and regularly takes students up to 40 minutes to reach their school, as the channels are filled with rainwater in the winter and snakes in the summer.”
Israel’s policies towards Palestinian students both in the West Bank and Gaza constitute clear breaches of international law and are violations of the right to education. They are part of a deliberate policy to hamper and arrest the education prospects of Palestinians. This must be remembered when arguments against the academic boycott of Israel falsely citing ‘academic freedom’ are trotted out by anti-Palestinian apologists for apartheid.